The next round of Timbaland and Swizz Beatz’ wildly popular Verzuz series goes down tonight.

After Snoop Dogg and DMX faced off in one of the best battles yet, Rick Ross and 2 Chainz will face off in a 20-round hit-for-hit battle at 8:00 p.m. EST. You can watch the live matchup on the Verzuz Instagram page or on Apple Music.

Before the battle, Rick Ross teased that he might play an unreleased song with Kanye West, and 2 Chainz said it’ll be a “huge celebration.” He continued, “It’ll be a celebration of life and success. Big toasting going on, talking shit going on.” In anticipation of the big matchup, we put together a list of 10 predictions for tonight.

No more on-the-fly picks

Verzuz is an institution now. With the backing of Apple Music and Ciroc, plus the implementation of an in-person setup, the overall production value has improved since the days of Babyface and Teddy Riley fumbling through technical difficulties. The whole machine runs more smoothly now, but it has come at the expense of the spontaneity that made some of the early battles so special. When Snoop Dogg and DMX sat down together two weeks ago, it was clear they each had pre-selected setlists that were queued up for them offscreen, so they weren’t able to react to each others’ picks in real-time (which had been the norm in past battles). As Verzuz settles into its new, well-oiled format, expect this trend to continue. —Eric Skelton

2 Chainz leans heavily on features

We’re all aware of the bag of iconic tracks that 2 Chainz has amassed from his lengthy career, but we expect his feature verses to outweigh his own songs in this battle. His reputation as a feature assassin gives him plenty of options to respond, if Rick Ross pulls out the big guns early, so look for him to whip out verses like “Ali Bomaye” and “3500.” He also has “Mercy” in his arsenal, which should be in the conversation as one of the best verses of the past decade. —Matthew Ritchie

Drake is a difference-maker

2 Chainz and Ross both have great chemistry with Drake, and their discographies are full of hits involving the Toronto native. 2 Chainz can’t possibly leave off “Big Amount,” “No Lie,” or his verse from Drake’s “All Me.” Conversely, Ross is basically contractually obligated to play his collaborations with Aubrey (when it comes to Drake duos, it doesn’t get better than these two). In fact, this could be a turning point in the battle, in favor of Ross. If it comes down to trading punches with Drake-assisted songs, Ross’ arsenal, which includes hits like “Lord Knows,” “Stay Schemin,” and “Gold Roses,” should give him a lead over 2 Chainz. —Matthew Ritchie

2 Chainz wins the battle of the room

Before every Verzuz battle, fans sit at home and mock up cheat sheets, predicting which songs will be played and who will win. This is an imperfect way to forecast these battles, though, because it ignores an important factor: who wins the room. Part of the reason Snoop Dogg did so well two weeks ago is because of the way he danced around the room and dropped gems between each round. Ross and Chainz are each a little more reserved and quiet than past challengers like T-Pain, Lil Jon, and Snoop, but between-round banter will still be important. Each of these guys are cooler than cool, but anyone who has watched 2 Chainz drop one-liners while inspecting extravagant hot tub boats and sleep masks on episodes of Most Expensivest knows he’ll have a slight edge when it comes to commanding the room. —Eric Skelton

Rick Ross goes viral

Two weeks after the last battle, we’re still seeing GIFs of Snoop Dogg dancing on our timelines. So who will get the meme treatment this week? 2 Chainz’s charisma might win him the room, but don’t dismiss Ross’ subtle humor. Remember the time he sat shirtless with Tim Westwood to talk about his sex appeal, before inexplicably pausing to shout out all the pears? He might be a little lower energy than Chainz, but our money is on Ross to deliver the funniest line of the night and take over timelines. —Eric Skelton

Rick Ross receives a Jay-Z bump

Jay-Z songs have been a consistent presence in nearly every Verzuz battle so far. The trend will continue tonight, but it will be one-sided. Ross and Hov have collaborated on songs like “The Devil Is a Lie,” “Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit,” and “Maybach Music” over the years, which Chainz won’t be able to match. In late 2018, Chainz famously posted a photo of himself on Instagram with the caption, “I wanna do a song with bru.” Unfortunately, it still hasn’t happened. After Rap or Go to the League dropped, Chaiz even told The Breakfast Club, “I tried to get him on this album and he told me maybe the next album. The timing apparently wasn’t right. This would’ve been [a feature off my] a bucket list. I’ma check it off one day.” This came after Chainz opted not to sign with Jay-Z earlier in his career and declined a Hov offer during the Watch the Throne era. Jay-Z collabs are always a cheat code in these battles, and Ross will have the edge this time. —Eric Skelton

Rick Ross plays “Devil In a New Dress” late

Both 2 Chainz and Ross have extensive catalogs full of Billboard hits and nostalgic jams, which will make for one of the most entertaining Verzuz battles yet, and they’ll go to-to-toe in the early rounds, throwing “Spend It” and “Hustlin” at each other like heavyweight haymakers. However, Ross holds a proverbial ace in the hole with his verse from Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. All he has to do is let the flawless guitar solo in the middle of “Devil In a New Dress” track play him out, leading to the masterpiece that was his verse. We expect him to close things out with classics like “B.M.F.,” but every battle has a turning point, and “Devil In a New Dress” could swing this one in Ross’ direction. —Matthew Ritchie

2 Chainz counters with “Mercy”

When Rick Ross plays “Devil In a New Dress,” expect 2 Chainz to counter with “Mercy.” 2 Chainz has already declared his verse on “Mercy” superior to the other featured guests on the track, so he might think it overshadows Ross on “Devil” as well. It would be in both of their interests to save these for one of the later rounds, but no matter when this happens, it will be one of the most memorable rounds of the night. —Jessica McKinney

More rappers will be inspired to participate in ‘Verzuz’

Verzuz began as a place to celebrate the contributions of producers and songwriters, but we’ve entered a new phase of the series where the focus has shifted to rappers. After Snoop Dogg and DMX’s battle last month, Swizz and Timb lined up another matchup of emcees as a follow-up. For months, there has been talk about how rappers’ egos are too sensitive for something like this, and several high-profile artists have said they have no interest in participating. But the Snoop and DMX battle ended up being the best one yet, leading to a boost of streaming revenue for each artist, and proving just how well this format lends itself to rappers. If tonight’s battle is anywhere near as successful, more rappers will warm up to the idea of participating. So, on that note: Jay-Z, we know you’re watching. Do the right thing. —Eric Skelton

Rick Ross wins (but it’ll be closer than you think)

Since this matchup was announced, lots of people have been making wild predictions that Rick Ross is going to win in a landslide. I’ve even seen fans say he’ll win 19-1 or 17-3. Sure, Rick Ross has a deeper catalog, and we expect him to outlast 2 Chainz in this battle, but it’ll be much closer than people think. Just look at the stats. They each have the same amount of top 10 Billboard hits: two. Meanwhile, 2 Chainz has 39 total Hot 100 entries, and Rick Ross has 49.

What might be clouding everyone’s perception is the disparity of album success. Here, Rick Ross has a clear edge: He has five No. 1 albums and 2 Chainz only has one. But you have to remember these guys only have a chance to play 20 songs. If this was a 100-song contest (or even 50), Rick Ross would win in a landslide, but when you talk about the top 20, it’s much closer. 2 Chainz’ biggest hits compare very well to Ross’ most successful singles. We expect Ross to pull away at the end of this battle by playing unbeatable classics like “B.M.F.,” but it’ll be a tight finish. Ross wins, 12-8. —Eric Skelton

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